The European Council decided on June 16, 2005, to make a “pause” in the ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty (ECT) and “open a period for reflection” about European institutions. The heads of state and government of the Union follow the recommendations of the supporters of the text who have often expressed their opinions in the media over the last few days. As always, it is very hard to find an ECT opponent who can respond in the mainstream media about what is convenient to do right now. The victory of the “No” has not allowed for the revitalization of an anemic pluralism, but quite the opposite. The opinion of most of the population is not reflected in the media.
Even worse, ECT supporters openly wonder about the means they count on to implement the main directions of the Treaty against the popular vote.

For the former president of the European Convention, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, it is necessary to understand the reasons of the “No” in order to “limit the disastrous effects.” For that, Le Monde gives him plenty of space to publish a large article. The former president gets into a rhetorical explanation in which he tries to condemn the option of the referendum for the ratification of the treaty, although he accepts it in its principles. The choice of the referendum would have been appropriate if only Parts I and II would have been submitted to ratification but, as Part III was also included, the Parliamentary option should have been prioritized. Part II is too complex for normal citizens to understand. In his opinion, the rejection of the ECT is the result of treacherous and xenophobic arguments used by the supporters of the “No” and a worrying French stratification that leads the popular classes to reject the arguments of the elites. Showing an apocalyptic image of the future of France in the Union, he believes, however, that there is still hope. Praising the “brave” supporters of the Treaty, he affirms that France will have to rely on this minority to re-launch its European policy.

Thus, according to the former president of the Republic, after the referendum, it is the opinion of the minority that has to be defended against the referendum’s winning majority. So, he urges everyone to be patient so that the French finally accept the text. In sum, the voting process should start again when the people are “ready” - a strange concept of popular sovereignty.
In the International Herald Tribune, four Atlantist analysts: Timothy Garton Ash, Michael Mertes, Dominique Moisi and Aleksander Smolar, ask the European Council to preserve the aspects of the text that are very precious for them in spite of the French and the Dutch disapproval. For them, it is essential that the European economies be deregulated, that the European Union has a common foreign policy under the rule of Javier Solana, and that expansion continues. Finally, there has to be an agreement on the budget. Thus, the results of the vote don’t matter much, but only the keeping of the American-blessed directions. As to other issues, like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, they think we have to wait. In the same newspaper, former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein considers that the European Union has been very ambitious and he makes some recommendations to reform it. What emerges from his words is that, for now, there is no sense in further developing the institutions and we have to rely more on states. Similarly, he recommends delaying the Turkish incorporation as it would only create a vast common market.
In The Independent, Democrat Liberal leader Charles Kennedy also recommends waiting. The double rejection of the ECT has showed that citizens distrust Europe. So, it is important to calm them down and to make the Union more transparent. It is the duty of a new generation of political leaders to build a new foundation. However, it is necessary to open the economies (an issue of debate in France) and to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

This topic of the reform to the CAP has been presented over the last few days in the British media after the British response to the demands of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder to revise the reduction of the British contribution to the budget of the European Union. This French-German maneuver made it very hard for Tony Blair before he assumes the presidency of the European Union for six months. The British Prime Minister would have been able to use that period to push France to one side due to their rejection of the ECT but he is now forced to justify his European policy and that is what he does in an interview given to the Figaro newspaper. He insists that there will not be any discussion about the British reduction without a reform to the CAP and he justifies his position comparing the benefits obtained by France from the European Union to those obtained by the United Kingdom.
In The Independent, former British Foreign Affairs Minister Denis MacShane tries to minimize the issue. There is nothing new in the opposition regarding the European budget; however, this new crisis illustrates the difficulties of the British to guarantee a leadership in Europe. Neither the British political parties, nor the trade unions, nor the NGOs have developed ties in Europe that may allow them to reflect London’s policies or opinions in the other countries.

In the meantime, in an interview given to the Figaro, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulina Tymoshenko expresses her concern about the delay in the incorporation of Ukraine that could lead to a rejection of the ECT. She believes that the rejection of the text is a big blow but it will lead Ukraine to work more. In a subtle manner, she accuses Putin’s Russia of using Stalinist methods to dominate her country and she transforms the taking of control of the Ukrainian economy by her clan in her own operation. This interview was made when she was visiting France to set up associations with French companies, particularly with Gaz de France.

It seems that the iron curtain that prevents the media from working in Uzbekistan may be a good excuse for all the actors in the crisis, in the country and abroad, to use misinformation in their struggle for power and the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. One month after the violent events in Andijan, nothing is clear yet about what really happened or the number of victims.
In an interview with Novyie Izvestia, Barkhom Khamkhoiev, one of the coordinators of the Uzbek political emigration, member of the Central Committee of the national movement Borlik (Unity), affirms that the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister is misinformed by the Uzbek power. Russia had declared that the clashes in Uzbekistan had been caused by Islamists and Chechens. He also accuses the United States for regarding the Islamists as an alternative for power and for supporting them. In his opinion, the uprisings were caused by the authorities who wanted to consolidate their power and send a message to Washington. For Khamkhoiev, it was the Karimov administration that released the prisoners to stir up violence and then discreetly had nearly 1000 corpses disappear with the help of a plane. He regards the Russians as traditional allies but he recommends that they stop supporting the current government if they do not want to lose the country for good.
The Turkish Weekly publishes a very different testimony by an anonymous rebel who affirms that he participated in the events of Andijan. The interview is taken from the Ferghana.Ru website, a Moscow-based news agency that received financial assistance from George Soros in 1999, although it has definitely taken distance from the millionaire, and which stopped supporting the opposition. It was the only news agency with correspondents in Andijan during the violent clashes of mid-May. That is why its correspondent, Alexei Volossevitch, appeared several dozens of times on Russian radio and television. However, his reports are forbidden in Uzbekistan. The testimony gives a very different version of the events in Andijan as presented in the West. The interviewee, called Rustam, says he is a member of Akramia, a Muslim brotherhood founded by Akram Yuldashev and other radicals who were former members of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir. He explains how the uprising was planned by the Islamists, who were armed and had taken hostages in official buildings. Insisting in the fact that his movement advocates peace, he acknowledges the attack of armed men although he says that he did not participate. This opinion is very different from the description of mass executions described by western media outlets. He says that the members of his movement are sheltered mainly in the Kyrgyz border and that they are preparing large operations. The US announcement of the withdrawal of its base in Uzbekistan that will be moved to Afghanistan and the recommendation to its citizens to leave the country could indicate that Washington is taking this hypothesis very seriously.
At the same time, negotiations between Karimov and the Chinese, and recent US decisions, seem to seriously threaten the project of a 100% American pipeline that is so much appreciated by Sanjar Umarov, an oligarch close to the United States as he manages many US investments in the country. In an interview with the electronic publication, this influential businessman explains his career and proposes reforms for a liberalization of all economy sectors. He recently wrote a letter to Condolezza Rice asking her to intervene more actively in his country. In his opinion, opening the country to the foreign capital would solve all the problems; a referendum to approve this policy would be enough. Umarov ambitions the post of Prime Minister but he does not ask for the departure of the president, something that makes some people say that he has a secret agreement with him.
The interests of the population are relegated to a second level while the struggles among internal clans continue and the big powers keep on fighting to have access to the national wealth. One thing is certain: Uzbekistan will again be making headlines in the coming months.